How to use a plasma cutter

How to use a plasma cutter?

When it becomes to cutting metal, the first thing that comes to mind are those large machines with sparks all over that cuts metal neatly. One of the best metal cutters in the present times is the plasma cutter. Using the plasma cutter isn’t as difficult as it seems. A hand held plasma cutter is something that is commonly used when it comes to performing a quick task.

Whether you are a contractor, an artist or even a fabricator, using a hand held plasma gives you better precision and perfection when it comes to cutting metal for use.

When compared to using saws, shears or even cut-off wheels in that case for cutting metal, all of these have taken a back seat ever since plasma cutters have come forward. Everyone who is involved in cutting metal and wants a quick solution, there is a plasma cutter to the rescue. Here are the highlights of all that a plasma cutter has been doing all this while.

  • There was more productivity amongst those who were involved in metal cutting

  • It cuts metal faster than any other machine put to use for metal cutting

  • It can cut any given metal, and even aluminium and stainless steel get cut

  • It is portable and can be taken around wherever required

  • There is lesser heat generated when metal is being cut

A plasma cutter apart from cutting metal is also known to pierce, create distinct holes and trace shapes on metal bodies with equal ease. This is one of those reasons why it has become an immensely popular metal cutting equipment.

How does a plasma cutter function?

The Plasma cutter is a piece of equipment that looks something between a thick laser light to a stream of hot gas. It can conduct electricity, and that gives it the freedom to cut into any given metal that you put in front of it. The cutting force of the plasma cutter is air that is heated electrically to a very high temperature that allows it to cut through metal with ease. The cutter contains a plasma arc torch that gives a swirl to the hot air while allowing it to flow in a straight direction. The gas is heated in the area between the electrode and the chamber while creating a plasma. While the opening of the plasma cutter is small, the gas is forced through that, and that is how it leads to melting of the upper layer of metal and later penetrating through the entire piece.

How to go about with the cutting of the metal with a plasma cutter?

Before you start with the cutting of metal with the help of a plasma cutter, you should know which machine should you use. Here are the questions that need a good answer from your end and only then can you choose the right equipment.

  • What is the input voltage in the place of work where you would be using the plasma cutter?

  • Do you know the thickness of the metal that needs to be worked upon?

  • How quickly do you want the results to be?

Keeping all of these in mind, you need to select a cutter that fits your requirements well where you cannot use a plasma cutter used by artists to cut metal at a workshop.

The process of using a plasma cutter

The process of using a plasma cutter

Start with wearing protecting clothing and equipment

Whether you are about to use it for the first time or have used it several times before this, there is always the need to wear protective clothing that ensures that you aren’t harmed in any way during the metal cutting process. Welding clothes and protective helmet that covers the eyes well is what you should help yourself with. You should also be wearing protective hand gloves and eyewear in case there is a splinter that accidentally hits your eyes. While you are handling a plasma cutter that works with high temperature, ensure that you wear clothing that isn’t made up of synthetic material. In case of an accident, synthetic material may stick to your body and cause more harm.

Prepare yourself for what would happen during metal cutting

Cutting metal with a plasma cutter isn’t difficult, but during the process, you would have to deal with fumes coming from the cutting process, noise emitted when the metal is being cut, extreme temperature and UV radiations that can be harmful. Keeping all of this in mind, you need to be prepared with the consequences that follow. There are times when you may have to come in contact with molten metal which is a result of extreme temperature, and you need to be prepared for it. Keep yourself away from the entire process and prevent bodily contact with neither the metal or the plasma cutter. Accidents may occur anytime, and you wouldn’t want to get hurt in the process.

Check the plasma cutter for any faults

Whether you have hired a plasma cutter or you are using something that you already own, it is important that you check the condition and quality before putting it to use. When you have brought out the metal and decided on how to cut it, you will not be happy to see the equipment not functioning well or cutting the metal in the right manner. Therefore, checking the plasma cutter before it is used would result in efficient metal cutting with precise results.

Use the right plasma cutter

Use the right plasma cutter

This is something that you need to pay heed to especially when you are cutting metal for the first time, or you haven’t done it that frequently before this. Latest plasma cutters are automatic and don’t need much of manual intervention, and that is how you can pick them instead of the complicated ones. With easy to use cutters in place, you can handle the cutting process once you know how to go about using the cutter well. You need to ensure that you picked the right cutter for the type of metal that needs to be cut.

Know about the metal that needs to be cut

You cannot use a low voltage plasma cutter to cut a large and thick piece of metal. The right type of cutter needs to be picked depending on the thickness of the metal. Check what your task is and only then go ahead to pick a plasma cutter. Using any random cutter for cutting metal can damage the machine as well damage the metal that needed attention. Analyse the metal well and look for the right cutter. You could ask for help from a professional or an expert, and they would guide on making the right pick.

When cutting metal for the first time or even for the second or third time, there are high chances of your hands shaking and moving from its place. This is when you can use a guide to assist you. Roller guides or circle cutting guides can help you ease out with the process, and that results in perfect metal cutting despite your hands moving from its place.

Using the correct power source

Plasma cutters come in different variations depending on the metal that it would be cutting. They vary with its voltage consumption and before you plug it in, check the power source whether it is right to support your cutter or not. Looking for the right plug to put in the power cord would ensure that it functions well and that there is no overload or tripping during the process of metal cutting. Most plasma cutters wouldn’t function when the plug or the power source doesn’t support its functionality.

The placement of the metal before cutting

When you know which metal to cut and how it needs to be done, you need to ensure that it is placed in the right manner. This makes it easy for you to work on it and ensure that the result is precise and perfect. Keeping the metal flat on a hard surface as that of wood or even concrete would ensure that it is stable and that you wouldn’t have any problem with cutting the metal properly.

The placement of the metal before cutting

Hold the plasma cutter well

When you are cutting the metal, the cut and result need to be precise. Unless you hold the cutter well, you wouldn’t be able to get the perfect results. Hold the cutter with both hands and aim it well on the metal. This would ensure that you haven’t missed out on cutting it precisely. Anything that goes wrong here, it may result in the metal being cut unevenly and not in the shape that you wanted it to be.

Using the torch of the plasma cutter

When you are ready to cut the metal, you need to now take the torch of the plasma cutter close to the metal so that it starts with its work. Tugging at the switch would make it start and then can you see the plasma cutter work its way to cut the metal as required. While the torch is on its process of cutting the metal, keep it in a perpendicular spot and move the torch so that it cuts the metal according to your needs. The torch is what would cut the metal, and that is something that needs to be held and operated well.

Putting the right speed during cutting

When you are at it cutting the metal, there is the need for you to get to the right speed. When you do not see sparks on the other side of the metal, it means that the speed isn’t something that is required of you. It means that the metal hasn’t been penetrated and that you need to change the speed for cutting the metal. Minimizing the travel speed of the plasma cutter and ensuring that the output amperage is right, you can get control over the speed of the plasma cutter when it is at work.

Giving the finishing

Once you have reached the other end of the metal, you need to slightly tilt the cutter so that things aren’t as sudden and that there isn’t a jerk. When you know that you are reaching the end of the cutting process, slow it down and ensure that it is done slowly. This results in the right finishing and not something that is badly cut or has an uneven edge.

Ensure that the plasma cutter is cooled well

Once you are done with cutting the metal, you need to ensure that the plasma cutter is cooled as high temperatures tend to make it extremely hot. Once it is turned off, hold it for a few minutes and then keep it aside with no combustibles around it. The heat from it may cause accidents and so keeping it in an isolated place would allow safety as well as cooling.

Whether you are hiring a plasma cutter from a contractor or you have it purchased, there is the need for you to ensure that it cuts metal in the right way. Since it makes life easy and that you do not have to use other complicated machinery and equipment, the plasma cutter gets to take the first position when you ask those who cut metal daily.

Only when a cutter is of the best quality would it come up with the precise cutting of the metal.

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